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The power of telemedicine

"I was stuck in hospital and at my wits end, it was so important for me to be with him. I felt I had broken my promise to him as he didn’t want to die in a hospice."

This is an extraordinary and very moving example of how telemedicine helped Christine Dennis, say her final goodbye to her husband Stuart before he died of cancer in Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice.

In June 2014, Christine, aged 72, was brought into Airedale Hospital after collapsing at her home in Addingham with pneumonia. She had been the main carer for her 74 year-old husband before he became seriously ill and was taken into the local hospice. They had been married 52 years and Christine told me it was so important for her to see and talk to him – especially as his wish was to die at home.

“I was stuck in hospital and at my wits end, it was so important for me to be with him. I felt I had broken my promise to him as he didn’t want to die in a hospice,” said Christine.

In a desperate attempt to unite the couple in some way, the ward sister asked staff in Airedale’s Telehealth Hub if they could help by bringing an ipad to Christine’s bedside and link it to a screen in Manorlands. The connection was a success.

“I didn’t know what to expect but he was so clear on the screen and he looked so well,” said Christine. “We had a chat and it was really lovely. That connection that I had with Stuart was the most important one that I ever had. It was as near as it could have been to being with him in person which was wonderful for us both.”

Christine was discharged from hospital in time for Stewart’s funeral later that week.

Ward sister Lucy said: “It was really good to be able to do something to help the couple. I can see so many other opportunities when using telemedicine could really help our patients. There have been cases when a patient’s relatives have all been in Australia and really worried. If they could use telemedicine to see their loved one on screen and talk to them it would help to give them the reassurance that they need.”

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"I was stuck in hospital and at my wits end, it was so important for me to be with him. I felt I had broken my promise to him as he didn’t want to die in a hospice."

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A dedicated 24/7 telephone service for people with a serious illness who are in their last year of life, and the people looking after them. Care is provided by a team of experienced nurses who are on hand to give advice, support and guidance to help people die with dignity in the place of their choosing (usually at home).

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A highly-specialist Health in Justice service providing consultant-led secondary care support via telemedicine to prisoners residing in Prisons and Youth Offender Institutions (YOI) across the country. This service is currently available in more than 30 secure centres across the country.

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The Hub team provides access to advice and support for residents in over 500 residential and nursing homes across the country, as well as individual patients with a variety of long-term conditions. The team has full access to individuals’ care records, allowing them to give comprehensive clinical assessments, guidance on condition management, and ongoing monitoring.

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